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Texas A&M soccer team loses to Virginia at College Cup

Texas A&M soccer team loses to Virginia at College Cup

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BOCA RATON, Fla. -- As the horn sounded, it looked like an electrical cord had just been pulled out of the No. 5 Texas A&M soccer team.

All 11 Aggies on the field stopped in their tracks. Some grabbed their knees. Others squatted with their heads in their hands after their first sojourn to the College Cup ended in a 3-1 loss to No. 4 Virginia in the national semifinals Friday at FAU Stadium.

"One of the unfortunate things about this event is three great teams are going to go home in tears," A&M coach G. Guerrieri said. "I think the better team won tonight pure and simple."

Nine Aggies ended their careers against a team that could feel their pain --Virginia (23-2) lost in the Final Four last season in its first appearance in that in round in more than 20 years.

"Last year, going out on PKs is obviously not the way any one wanted to go out," said Virginia junior defender Emily Sonnett, who scored the game winner just before the half. "I think our team had a great effort tonight against a tough A&M team. I think the final whistle brought relief."

Virginia will play No. 2 Florida State (23-1-1) in the final on Sunday. FSU advanced by beating Stanford 2-0 on Friday.

Sonnett scored on a header assisted by Tina Lordanou, who stood on the far post for Danielle Colaprico's corner kick and forced a touch save by A&M goalkeeper Jordan Day.

"I thought getting that second goal when we did at the end of the half helped," Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. "We would have been disappointed to go into the half 1-1. Our goalkeeper made a great save at a critical time, and I thought that was another turning point."

Virginia's Morgan Stearns made the pivotal save, falling to secure a shot by Annie Kunz in the penalty box. On the play, Karlie Mueller found Kunz in the box, and with a defender on her back, Kunz got the ball out from under her feet to get a shot on goal.

Kunz is one of nine seniors who played their last game for the Aggies (22-3-2), eight of whom started.

"This is a [senior] class that really made an impact from the first day they stepped on campus," Guerrieri said. "I think they have helped to propel our name and our brand with what Texas A&M soccer plays like."

A&M set the school record for wins in a season while reaching the College Cup for the first time in 20 attempts.

A&M's Kelley Monogue, playing in her 100th career game, pulled the Aggies even with her team-leading 18th goal of the season and 53rd of her career.

Monogue settled an attempted clearance of Meghan Streight's free kick from midfield and left-footed a shot to the opposite corner from just outside the 18-yard box.

A&M fell behind for the first time in 371 minutes in the NCAA tournament when Virginia's Makenzy Doniak got behind Streight and redirected a header past Day.

The goal was set up by a perfect pass from Morgan Blair, who showed in the fist minutes why she is the reigning MAC Hermann Award winner.

"She is just a phenomenal player, and she is the type of player who can make those kind of passes," Streight said. "Certainly we were not expecting those kind of balls. I think it was just one of those things where we didn't get enough pressure on the ball to begin with, so she was able to get that kind of look, and I couldn't find [Doniak] on my backside."

The Aggies had not only not trailed in the tournament, they also had scored in the first 15 minutes in each of the first four games.

"It's a different game when you're not chasing the game, especially for us," Swanson said. "Scoring first settled us down and gave us confidence. We obviously knew about A&M. They are always a good starting team. They press really hard, and for us to go ahead at that point in time was again another critical part of the game."

The Aggies pursued well enough to match Virginia in shots (six) and shots on goal (two) in the first half.

"It doesn't really change things as far as the way we wanted to play," Guerrieri said. "We kept our same tactics for the most part in the first half."

Down 2-1, A&M adjusted in the second half, pulling wingers Allie Bailey and Bianca Brinson back in their formation in hopes of getting more possession and starting the attack from the backline or midfield.

Virginia nearly doubled its lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Doniak broke free but couldn't beat Day one on one.

The senior, who returned from an opening game injury in time for the postseason, had to leap to the ground minutes later when left back Lordanou, who had switched sides on a set piece, cracked a shot from the corner of the penalty box.

A&M had two opportunities to square the match -- Kunz's shot inside the box and Monogue's shot from the top of the box set up by a Bailey run and pass.

Then with Virginia bleeding the clock in the corners and A&M trying to get players forward, substitute Alexis Shafer showed great patience in front of a defender, holding the ball and waiting for the right time to bend the ball around Day and allow the Cavaliers to see the finish line. 

NOTES -- The loss snapped A&M's unbeaten streak at 14 matches. ... A&M played a majority of the game without junior starting midfielder Janae Cousineau, who played through injuries the last half of the season. ... Sonnett has a twin sister Emma who plays for Georgia, the team A&M clinched the SEC title against. Sonnett said she spoke to her sister about A&M and knew the Aggies blanked the Bulldogs 3-0 for the title.

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